I often find some films evoke the period in which they were made much more than others, and "Turn the key softly" is one of the very best. As we follow the fortunes of three women released from Holloway prison one morning during one day, you can really feel the atmosphere of London's streets. The film has excellent location photography, not just of familiar landmarks like Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square, but of the suburbs too - Holloway and Shepherd's Bush. It is as close to being there yourself as you could get.
The film begins with a marvellous shot of trolleybuses (my favourite!) gliding past the old exterior of Holloway prison. There is a lengthy sequence involving a journey by tube, other location highlights being the old theatre on Shepherd's Bush green, the street market, and Joan Collins in Charing Cross Road.
The three leads all give very convincing performances, three women of very different characters dealing with their first day of freedom. Joan Collins as Stella, a "tart with a heart" who nearly jeopardises her chance of happiness; Yvonne Mitchell as Monica who has served time because of her love for David (Terence Morgan)and who nearly makes the same mistake twice, and wonderful Kathleen Harrison as Mrs Quillam, a pathetic and ultimately tragic old woman and inveterate shop lifter. Terence Morgan is at his most smarmy and manipulative, a role in which it seems he was usually cast. I can hardly recall a film in which he wasn't cast as an unpleasant character.
DVD transfer is very good, sharp and crisp with good audio level. For anyone who enjoys windows like this onto a lost Britain this film cannot be recommended enough. It is a simple story but well written and scripted and you will find yourself truly caring about the fates of Stella, Monica and Mrs Quillam. I know I did.
Thanks so much to Strawberry Media for releasing it onto DVD.